Neeraj Chopra: Love tracking the arcs from the launch until the javelin lands

Neeraj created history by becoming the first Indian to win an athletics gold medal at the Olympics by winning the men's javelin throw at Tokyo 2020 with a best throw of 87.58m.

Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra claimed the coveted ‘Sportstar of the Year (Male)’ award at the 2022 Sportstar Aces Awards.   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra claimed the coveted ‘Sportstar of the Year (Male)’ award at the 2022 Sportstar Aces Awards held at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel on Saturday.

“We athletes will continue to work hard, and try to take our country to the top of the world,” Neeraj said after receiving his award.

Neeraj created history by becoming the first Indian to win an athletics gold medal at the Olympics by winning the men's javelin throw at Tokyo 2020 with a best throw of 87.58m. Neeraj is only the second Indian ever to win an individual gold -- shooter Abhinav Bindra finished on top of the podium in 2008. Neeraj is also the first Indian since independence to win an athletics medal at the Olympics.

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However, the 24-year-old still wonders how he picked up the sport. "I'm still searching for the answer (laughs!)," he said in response to Indian tennis great Leander Paes's question about how he fell in love with the sport. "Growing up, there were many sports, but the javelin throw caught my eye.  I loved tracking the arcs from the launch until they landed at their distances. I still do. That's where the passion comes from."

 

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Neeraj rose to prominence when he equalled the national record with a throw of 82.23m in the 2016 South Asian Games at the age of 19. There has been no looking back ever since. While he continues to hog the limelight on the track, Neeraj is also picking up some new hobbies along the way that have helped him switch off.

"I was on the same flight with Abhinav (Bindra) sir. We talked about a lot of things, among them my newfound love for photography. I bought a new camera just before the Tokyo Olympics and have been clicking some really nice pictures (laughs)."

Neeraj stressed how the family is the most important thing in his life. "I brought my uncle along for the awards function. It's his first time on a flight. I come from a joint family, so there is a lot of love and affection between everyone.

"That said, after winning the medal, I had to speak with the media first (laughs)! Caught up with my parents much later. I'm indebted to them for allowing me to choose a sport that no one really knew about back in the day."   

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